Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Feeling the rhythm with ADAAWE

Ngan Vu
From left to right, The “International Women of the Drum and Voice,” members Phylliss Bailey Brooks, Bridget Graham and Joselyn Wilkinson perform in the Centennial Hall on Oct. 7.

On Saturday Oct. 7, fusion band ADAAWE hit the stage at Augustana with a blend of West African roots, American funk and gospel harmonies. The performance was open to students and their families as well as to the general public. 

ADAAWE’s goal is to inspire and bring positivity to the crowds they perform for, making their music full of meaning so that audiences can not only enjoy the rhythm, but become joyful from it.

Bridget Graham, singer and performer, said there is a lot of meaning behind the music created by the group.

“We are very inspired by music that really has meaning,” Graham said. “There’s so much going on in the world, so we do whatever we can to uplift our audiences.”

The group focuses on bringing unity with music and creating a community within every audience they perform for. 

ADAAWE is a group of all female performers from around the world, including Kenya, Israel, Panama, Morocco and areas across the United States. They have performed in schools as well as different festivals and events all over the country.

“[We meet] through African dancing and drumming communities, different musical groups and church,” Joselyn Wilkinson, vocalist and musician, said. “We’ve become a sisterhood over the years,”

Anindo Marshall, vocal choreographer, educator and dancer, said the group efficiently brings people together.

“We all come from different parts of the world and we want to bring the world together through music,” Marshall said. “We felt that if we were from all different places in the world, we can touch people from all over the world in a positive way.”

The band’s music is created by using a variety of different instruments from both African and Western culture.

Dez Glover, musician and vocalist, said the many instruments they use help to make the vibrant music performance possible. 

“We use drums mainly,” Glover said. “It’s heavily percussion based so we use dunduns and double iron bells quite often.”

The journey to Augustana was made possible by the Quad Cities Arts Center, as they began their performances for the year with ADAAWE. The show at Augustana was the last of a full week touring schools in the Quad Cities area for ADAAWE. 

Kevin Maynard, member of the Quad Cities Arts, spoke highly of the group’s shows and their influence on crowds they’ve performed for.

“They engage with the students they perform for, and it’s a lot of energy,” Maynard said. “It just made me so happy and so joyous to hear.” 

The group has worked with nearly 3,800 students over the past week, taking great pride and pleasure in educating them with music and creating harmony between the children. 

“It’s really important for kids to get in touch with rhythm, get in tune with the foundation of music and finding the music inside of them,” Wilkinson said.

Monique Afenjar, vocalist and dancer, said the experience of performing in front of children has been a unique one. 

“They take everything in,” Afenjar said. “They show you that there is so much love and whatever we feed them, they feed it back to us.”

Children throughout the schools have not been the only ones to enjoy the music of ADAAWE, and at the Saturday performance, the floor was alive with energy and joy.

Renee Holloway, First-Year, attended the concert and was moved by the rhythm.

“The music just made you want to dance,” Holloway said. “Just naturally, like without even being pushed. You were dancing in your seat.” 

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